Pope, "Doc" John
The following data is extracted from Arkansas Slave Narratives.
Interviewer: Miss Irene Robertson Person interviewed: "Doc" John Pope, Biscoe, Arkansas Age: 87
I am 87 years old for a fact. I was born in De Soto County, Mississippi, eight miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. No I didn't serve in de War but my father Gus Pope did. He served in de War three years and never came home. He served in 63rd Regiment Infantry of de Yankee army. He died right at the surrender. I stayed on de farm till the surrender. We scattered around den. My father was promised $300.00 bounty and 160 acres of land. Dey was promised dat by the Constitution of the United States. Every soldier was promised dat. No he never got nary penny nor nary acre of land. We ain't got nuthin. De masters down in Mississippi did help 'em where they stayed on. I never stayed on. I left soon as de fightin was gone. I was roamin round in Memphis and man asked me if I wanted to go to college. He sent a train load to Fitz (Fisk) University. I stayed there till I graduated. I studied medicine generally. Sandy Odom, the preacher at Brinkley, was there same time as I was. He show is old. He's up in ninety now. He had a brother here till he died. He was a fine doctor. He got more practice around here than any white doctor in this portion of de county. Fitz University was a fine college. It was run by rich folks up north. I don't know how long I stayed there. It was a good while. I went to Isaac Pope, my uncle. He was farming. Briscoe owned the Pope niggers at my first recollection. He brought my uncle and a lot more over here where he owned a heap of dis land. It was all woods. Dats how I come here.
After de Civil War? Dey had to "Root hog or die". From 1860-1870 the times was mighty hard. People rode through the county and killed both white and black. De carpet bagger was bout as bad as de Ku Kluck.
I came here I said wid John Briscoe. They all called him Jack Briscoe, in 1881. I been here ever since cept W.T. Edmonds and P.H. Conn sent me back home to get hands. I wrote 'em how many I had. They wired tickets to Memphis. I fetched 52 families back. I been farmin and practicin all my life put near.
I show do vote. I voted the last time for President Hoover. The first time I voted was at the General Grant election. I am a Republican, because it is handed down to me. That's the party of my race. I ain't going to change. That's my party till I dies. We has our leader what instructs us how to vote.
Dey say dey goiner pay 60 cents a hundred but I ain't able to pick no cotton. No I don't get no help from de relief. I think the pore class of folks in a mighty bad fix. Is what I think. The nigger is hard hit and the pore trash dey call 'em is too. I don't know what de cause is. It's been jess this way ever since I can recollect. No times show ain't one bit better. I owns dis house and dats all. I got one daughter.
I went to Fitz (Fisk) University in 1872. The folks I told you about was there then too. Their names was Dr. E.B. Odom of Biscoe and his brother Sandy Odom. He preaches at Brinkley now. Doc Odom is dead. He served on the Biscoe School Board a long time wid two white men.
I don't know much about the young generation. They done got too smart for me to advise. The young ones is gettin fine educations but it ain't doin 'em no good. Some go north and cook. It don't do the balance of 'em no good. If they got education they don't lack de farm. De sun too hot. No times ain't no better an de nigger ain't no better off en he used to be. A little salary dun run 'em wild.
Source: Arkansas Slave Narratives